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Schneiderman Announces Resignation Amid Assault Allegations

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Updated 9:05 a.m. May 8, 2018

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will resign after The New Yorker published a pieceoutlining graphic assault allegations from four women against the second-term Democrat. New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie were among the prominent Democrats calling for Schneiderman to resign in the hours after The New Yorker published its story. 

The New Yorker documented the former Attorney General’s encounters with the women, who say Schneiderman repeatedly hit them, and in on case choked them, after he had been drinking, and that two of the women had to seek medical attention. One says the former attorney general threatened to kill her if she broke up with him.

Schneiderman, a former state Senator who is New York’s top law enforcement official, denied the allegations, but said in a statement that he has “engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.” 

The 63-year-old added “I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."

In statement sent at 9:44 p.m., he said:

“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

The magazine reported that Schneiderman was using large quantities of alcohol and drugs. Schneiderman has long been a supporter of women’s rights, and he spoke out frequently against other allegations of sexual assault in recent months, when the #Metoo movement exploded. The Attorney General was suing the disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

A spokeswoman for the New York Attorney General's office says Barbara Underwood will step in as acting attorney general. She has been the state's Solitictor General since 2007. Before that she served as Chief Assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office is investigating the allegations against Schniederman. 

A statement from Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. late Monday, said prosecutors would look into the claims.

It's an unusual twist: Schneiderman's office had been tasked with investigating the Manhattan District Attorney's office over its handling of a 2015 sex assault probe involving Harvey Weinstein that resulted in no criminal charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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